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 Post subject: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:32 am
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Are orpington chickens a difficult breed of chicken to keep. Do they have greater needs than the smaller breeds of chickens. Love the look and size but not sure if they are for me?


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 Post subject: Re: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:38 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:50 am
Posts: 285
Location: Brisbane
Soozorps, here is your chance to promote the Orps.

My limited experience is they are like all breeds they have their onw breed characterstics. For the large, they need plenty of good quality food, water and space throughout their growing phases to ensure you get the size and feather quality. Always try to buy the best quality birds your can affort, from a reputable breeder, saves alot of heart ache later now.

Always do plenty of research on what ever breed you like. The more information you have the better the judgement you can make.

Rhode Red


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 Post subject: Re: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:41 pm 
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I agree with Rhode Red. Sooz is the one to speak to about orps. Having said that I have some buff and a blue orp the buff are going through the gangly teenage years at present. I love the fact that they are quiet and easy going as a breed (well mine are) I also recommend buying only from reputable breeders that you can see the breeding stock having been caught with a less than ordinary example in the past. I have mine in a large pen by themselves now, but when they were chicks I found them easy to bring up and hardy. I love the fact that they are a large breed without attitude which means that my son who is 2 can go into the pen even with the large roo and he doesn't bat an eyelid.


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 Post subject: Re: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:54 am 
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First – I am putting in a part of an article I was recently asked to do – the article covers various things - this section is on basic ‘type’
Male Characteristics
CARRIAGE :- to be bold, upright and graceful; giving the appearance of an active fowl

TYPE:-
Body - this should be deep and broad with a cobby appearance. With a back that needs to be nicely curved
with a somewhat short concave outline. The saddle must be wide while rising slightly, with a full hackle.
The breast should be broad, deep and well rounded; not flat.
The wings are to be small, nicely formed and carried closely to the body, the ends almost hidden by the saddle hackle.
A rather short tail, compact flowing and high, on a level with the birds eyes/head. No higher than the head preferred.
The head must be small and neat, but giving the impression of fullness over the eyes. The beak must be ‘strong’ and nicely curved. With eyes that are large, bold and appear to be soulful.
Remember that the comb is single, small, firmly set on head, evenly serrated and free from side sprigs. No other form of comb is permitted at this time.
A smooth face is essential, with wattles of medium length that should be somewhat rectangular and nicely rounded at the bottom. The ear-lobes should be small and elongated.
The neck should be of medium length, compact, curved nicely giving the impression of ‘gracefulness’ and with a full hackle.
All plumage should be reasonably profuse and close. Not soft, loose and fluffy as in the Cochin or close and hard as in the Game Fowl.
The legs and feet should be short and solid, giving a ‘solid, stocky’ appearance. The thighs should be almost hidden by the body feathers and set well apart. Four toes on each foot, straight and well spread.
Handling, firm.

Female Characteristics
The characteristics are similar to that of the male. The cushion should wide and almost flat in appearance with a slight rising to the tail. This is to give the back a graceful appearance with an outline approaching concave.
Serious Defects

Side sprigs on comb. White in ear-lobes. Feathers on shanks or feet. Long legs. Any deformity. Yellow skin or yellow on the shanks or feet of any variety. Any yellow or ‘sappiness’ in the White. Coarseness in head, legs or feathers. General disqualifications and Serious Defects as per the Australian Poultry Standards [APS].

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 Post subject: Re: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:06 am 
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This post has caught me a bit off guard [so to speak] so my apologies for a very disjointed answer – however, I will NOT apologise if anyone feels I have ‘trodden on toes’ in certain parts of this answer = I have been involved in breeding Orps my whole life – the Cuckoo and Black have been in my family since 1947 [and I am NOT young]

All this content is MY opinion only and others are more than welcome to come in and post their own ideas/advise

First and foremost – DON’T BUY ON IMPULSE as you WILL get burnt [usually big time!!!!] only buy at Auction IF you have a long time breeder/exhibitor there to help you decide = when ‘viewing/examining’ the birds prior to the start of the auction they WILL take yr arm and walk you away if the birds are not good enough = well I would anyway!!!! Actually I have done that sidesplit.gif

Always do your homework – make sure the breeder is well known to be reputable/honest [some really are only trying to ‘cash in’ and sell everything crap included!].
I have no concerns about anyone contacting the Club and asking about me, but if a breeder seems unnerved when you say you are going to contact the ‘Club’ = walk away! The Club can advise if the breeder exhibits birds regularly and if so the quality of same – this can help to establish if the lines are good.
Always acquire the best birds you can – always acquire them from a reputable breeder [and trust me there are some ‘clunkers’ out there just hatching stacks and selling all regardless of quality] = if possible WAIT another 5-6months after you decide to get the breed and save a bit more = go the extra few yards to get good birds from good lines = it is worth the wait!


OK - here we go [baring in mind I am VERY caffeine deprive today :-? :roll: sidesplit.gif ]

The Orpington is NOT hard to keep they are just bigger than other breeds – the only others that compare size wise in OZ are the Brahma and the Jersey Giant [YES the JGs are here just not exhibited by the owners, note tho that they are actually smaller than both Orp and Brahma – the name giant does not mean they are]

To keep Orps [or any of the largest breeds] exclusively on deep litter = allow 2½mt X 2½mt PER BIRD [that is NOT 2½mt squared = that is 2½mt BY 2½mt] and make totally certain the litter is kept dry and changed about every 3-4 months – they can do well free ranging but if grown out free ranging they will never reach their full potential size wise as the free ranging reduces the amount of protein they require for correct growth = as with all breeds, large birds need a lot of good quality feed [with about 20% protein as a guide] –
with adult birds = mid Spring up the greens thus reducing the protein to help get any Winter fat off them then mid Autumn reverse the process so they have fat stores for Winter and for showing

Make sure all roosts and nesting boxes are no higher than ½ - ¾mt [unless you want them to land with a real thump and potentially a broken leg as they WILL land with a decided THUMP – a 3yr old rooster can weigh 6+kg depending on the colour/line]

The Orpington is a heavily feathered breed and need their rears trimmed for natural breeding otherwise you need to Artificially Inseminate = not easy with such a large breed
The feathers grow back early each Autumn so you don’t need to worry about that

Of course they will eat a bit more than the smaller breeds
They require housing that allows them plenty of room to move around and will also protect them from the heat. They tend to do better in cooler climates but many are successfully breeding them where the summer temps get to 40 and sometimes above, making sure they have fridge chilled water that also has cordial bottle iceblocks in it – in my opinion no Orp owner should ever wet their birds to keep them cool = due to the amount of feathering and other factors they will most often get sick as a result – if needs be use air-conditioning to keep the air cool thus keeping them cool on days 35c and over. I have air conditioners but also use the chilled and frozen water

They are a complacent/docile breed with only the odd random ‘narky’ rooster and the rare ‘flighty’ hen.
Overall the saying “you can throw them at a brick wall and they will come back for more” applies to this breed BUT DON’T THROW THEM AT A WALL = it WILL KILL THEM !!!! I used that saying only to indicate the overall temperament of the breed.

They look gangly and ugly as teenagers and MANY sell them off at this stage not realising they are probably selling a future best in show winner [I know someone that has done this] – the breed takes 2-3years to fully grow out and should not start to be assessed for quality until the are 9½ to 10months old. Only culling [killing] up to that age for obvious defects


They grow out to be graceful elegant looking birds that will become very humanised if interacted with regularly and can be very long lived [one of my girls will be 19 this coming August] the roosters are viable breeders for 8-9 years the hens for as long as they are laying = at 18yrs old my elderly hen became a mother and her sister also became a mother aged 17½ yrs old]

As they grow so large I recommend the chicks are given vitamins for at least the first 5-7months – I also recommend they are fed ‘Turkey and Meat Bird Starter’ to age 9 weeks then ‘Turkey and Meat Bird Grower’ until the first egg is laid then and only then start to introduce other feed stuffs that have a lesser protein content eg: the 3 Gs = grains greens grubs
Now I KNOW I will get shot down [by some] for that statement but it DOES work much better than = “Oh but they are so cute so I give them treats” or “ I let them free range from 16 weeks but they just don’t seem to grow as well” and 9 times out of 10 then go on to say “My chicks have Cocci what do I do now?” or ‘They just haven’t grown as well as I thought they would” my answer is always the same “If you had of fed them properly to start with they would have a good resistance and they would have grown properly as well” = many hate me for saying this is the BEST way to grow out Orpingtons [std size] as they say “Oh but my OEGs or Leghorns [or what ever] really do do well if I change them at 16 weeks onto adult food” but I remind them I am NOT talking about those breeds I am talking about ORPINGTONS and they will argue for a bit longer then just shut up – as I stand my ground and keep saying Orpingtons Orpingtons Orpingtons until the breed name gets in their heads.

I exclusively feed my chicks the way I mentioned here and except for the time immediately after the heat and fires of 09 [49c during the day and 35c at night for 4 days/5 nights when I did go against my better judgement and out of desperation wet my birds] I had not experienced Cocci in any of my pens.
My birds range [as adults] from 3.5 to 5kg for a hen and 5-10.89kg for a rooster. For me it works and I am happy with the results.

Of course I am more than happy for others to come in here and put other stuff/give their opinions over mine = the more educated info here the better.


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 Post subject: Re: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:06 am 
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I reckon that Orpingtons are the best breed to own - makes no difference if they are std size or bantam

but then I'm biased :-D :-D :-D [smilie=a_chuckle.gif] a_bravo.gif sidesplit.gif

forgot to put the reason I edited = I cant spell Orpingtons :oops: :oops: :lol: :roll: sidesplit.gif :oops: so it will now read I have edited this twice :-? ;)


Last edited by ooz on Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:19 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:50 am
Posts: 285
Location: Brisbane
Very good information Sooz a_bravo.gif , it certainly shows your understanding of the breed. Its the feeding and culling of the chickens that usually catches most out. RI have the same issue, they has such a staged growth pattern, it takes most people a few season to catch on.

The best thing new breeders can do is take as many notes of obversations and actions they see or do during the full season.

Rhode Red


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 Post subject: Re: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:05 pm 
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Rhode Red wrote:
Its the feeding and culling of the chickens that usually catches most out. RI have the same issue, they has such a staged growth pattern, it takes most people a few season to catch on.
Rhode Red


staged growth patterns = I forgot that/them!! thank RR :-D

Now – when I say ‘cull’ I mean KILL – I do not believe in keeping/growing out and then later selling a less than quality bird and have kept a less than quality bird on 2 occasions due to the colour in question [being extremely rare]

Also do not ‘view’ the birds daily – yes look at them when you tend to them but don’t LOOK at them – you need to see them with fresh eyes at each culling session = to see them but not view them means you will ‘see’ them properly when viewing them [sorry for sounding slightly Nanny McPhee there!]

Now = this needs to be said –
A dear friend [now sadly departed] told me years ago

Quote Lance =
“Breed the best to the best and hope for the best,
Choose the best and cull the rest
Don’t feed what you don’t need.”
End quote

New chicks - fat little fluff balls – if any are decidedly smaller from the same parents/hatch = cull them - if any obvious defects/deformities cull them – do not waste feed on them!

2 weeks old – feathers well on the way to growing in – excluding Blacks and Chocs = these are soooooooooo slow to feather up – cull for any now obvious defects/deformities

4 weeks old – most of those ‘first feathers’ are grown in and they should look ‘bright eyed and cheerful/energetic’ – cull for now obvious defects – lower the amount of heat they are receiving by 25%

7-8 weeks take the birds ‘off heat’ if they are fully feathered up [allowing for the Blacks and Chocs] look for now obvious defects

12 weeks look for more defects and cull – these ones will be big enough to go on the dinner table – be aware they are now entering the gangly teenage stage so be careful not to cull just because they look like shite! ONLY cull for actual defects. At this age any deformities would not be present as they have been culled previous

16 weeks as per 12 weeks – at this cull all ‘defective’ birds should be in your freezer and the remainder are borderline ‘ugly’ gangly teenagers and you are now wondering “what am I doing???? These are sooooo yuk!” keep them they will grow out of this stage!

20 weeks look at their heads and legs – pretty heads & solid legs = these are to be ‘tagged’ to be looked at again at 9-10 months old [loose cable ties on a leg is good, make notes re each of these birds and take pictures to go with the notes (close up head shots and full body side on shots) ] – separate the cockerels and pullets into sex differentiated pens = you do not want the pullets being trodden by a dozen or more ckls when their hormones kick in ! Make sure the pens give enough room for the birds to move freely

10months look closely at the tagged birds - if the heads are no longer ‘pretty’ and the legs don’t appear solid still at this age = put different coloured tags on them and take more pics and keep an eye on them to see how they go, they may improve and impress at the next ‘viewing’. Look at the chest and back of all – a full round deep broad chest and a good neat back line = keep growing those out – if any of the pretty faced solid legged have a good chest/backline – watch these closer at the next viewing

If any ckls impress and there are hens available and laying = put them together twice a day [for 15mins only] to do test matings – ensuring the ckls stay together during the day and all night to alleviate any problems of fighting

By 12 months you have proof on the ground if the ckls are worth keeping re offspring – you have shown them, if you want to - and you can then choose the best of the soon to be 1st year roosters to keep and those you will rehouse.

Keep the pullets separate until they have been shown and once gone through their first moult mate them to test breed to find out what they will ‘throw’ in their offspring – then decide which brand new 1st year hens you will keep to work with

Don’t be tempted to just grow out and later sell everything you have hatched as you WILL give yourself a very bad name and you will be contributing to damaging/destroying a wonderful breed


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 Post subject: Re: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:49 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 255
Location: poultry on the gwydir
I totally agree with this soozorps.I have 3 pens that had up till Wednesday 100 birds each in them.One pen 20 weeks now has about 60 birds I culled(killed) hard.The 2nd is 16 weeks and that went from 100 to 70 and the 12 week old pen went to 50.I murdered a lot.I hate it and feel bad for doing it but they were just the crap birds.Weedy,under weight and failure to thrive birds(runts).I went back into one of the pens today and saw more so they are gone to now.I will continue to do this culling(chook murdering) till I am happy with them.I will then pick out what I want from them once they are laying.I have learnt this from one of the best breeders in the country if not the best who took me under there wing so to speak.The only way to get the best birds(most of the time) is to go through the orpington club.I would also just like to add something else.Don't get upset with a breeder if they wont let you visit there place and view the birds.Some breeder work this way for many reasons and it is not because they are shonky breeders or have something to hide.They are more than happy to let you view the birds from photos or meet you with birds and let you pick from a variety of birds.It could be as simple as bio security and having 500 or more birds.Nothing beats a beautiful well grown orpington.

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"If your gonna be two-faced, at least make one of them pretty."? Markz


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 Post subject: Re: orpington chickens
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 5:48 pm 
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Location: Gold Coast, QLD
Thanks very much for taking the time to pass on such wonderful (and hard earnt) information!!


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